Almost $5 million has been paid out to TSS old boys as The Southport School begins compensating survivors of abuse at the elite Gold Coast campus.
Almost $5 million has been paid out to TSS old boys as The Southport School begins compensating survivors of abuse at the elite Gold Coast campus.

Revealed: Million dollar payouts from elite school for abuse

ONE of the city's top private schools admits it has paid out almost $5 million to 11 sex abuse survivors - and at least another 18 former old boys want compensation.

In a statement to the Bulletin, The Southport School said: "It is a public fact that abuse occurred in the past. Every claim of abuse is taken seriously by TSS and survivors of abuse will be supported."

TSS has told the Bulletin there are 18 "open claims" - three where legal proceedings have been commenced, 12 are under personal injury law and another three with the National Redress Scheme.

"Eleven claims have been dealt with and close to $5 million paid out to survivors or their families," TSS said.

The legal claims follow an exclusive series of reports in the Bulletin starting in early 2017 after private detective Bill Edgar became a whistleblower having interviewed the victim of an alleged rape in a dormitory in 1971.

Former students and their families contacted Ms Edgar and the newspaper, and in one instance a 31-year-old alleged years of shocking physical and sexual abuse starting when he was a 10-year-old boarder.

Mr Edgar said he was aware of 33 survivors of alleged abuse at TSS, which occurred from the 1970s to about 1997. He predicts the compensation bill will run into millions of dollars.

Private detective and former TSS Bill Edgar outside the campus. Pic by David Clark.
Private detective and former TSS Bill Edgar outside the campus. Pic by David Clark.

"I'm happy with the statement from TSS, that they have put a figure on it (so far). Maybe the doors I'm kicking in are starting to open a bit wider.

"They've been silent for over 30 years. I've been doing this (campaigning) for a long time now and I never ever heard of them come out and say we have paid except for the wife of Peter Jackson."

The State of Origin footballer died of a heroin overdose in a Sydney motel room in 1997 having battled depression after keeping secret how he had been sexually abused by a football coach at TSS. The settlement was reported to be about $250,000.

Slater and Gordon principal lawyer Nick Hart, who has represented the TSS old boys, told the Bulletin: "A number of people over the years have said they suffered horrific harmful abuse and bullying at TSS which is supposed to be one of the state's most prestigious schools.

"The ones who come to us for legal support who've experienced or witnessed this abuse have suffered significantly. Many have lost confidence and the ability to lead the life they set out to live. The trajectory of their life has taken a real downturn, and some have turned to alcohol or drugs."

A former student, now 50, who has sought help from Slater and Gordon, recalled being physically and sexually assaulted at the school as a 15-year-old in the late 1980s.

Headmaster of TSS Greg Wain — he has released a statement on behalf of the school.
Headmaster of TSS Greg Wain — he has released a statement on behalf of the school.

"I never told anybody anything until I had a break down three years ago. The first person I told was my doctor. I went in to get a script for medication and absolutely broke down," he said.

"I was one of the students dedicated to taking the younger students for a run in the morning.

I was attacked after the run in the showers. Soon after I started drinking and taking drugs. I ran away.

"I have tried to kill myself four times. I don't keep in touch with anyone from the school. It's too painful I have completely disassociated myself with the place."

Headmaster Greg Wain admitted TSS could not change the past but the school was taking significant steps to better protect children within its care.

"These include detailed student protection policies and procedures, mandatory screening for employees and clergy, training in child safety, and mandatory reporting of any inappropriate behaviour or suspicion of it," he said.

"We are determined that the ordeal sexual abuse survivors have suffered should never occur again and we are committed to developing and maintaining a culture that is open and supportive and that protects our students."

 

 

paul.weston@news.com.au

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Revealed: Million dollar payouts from elite Coast school for abuse


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